In the Audiophile Land, there's all kinds of earphones. Cheap, expensive, gorgeous, ugly. But the best headphones just sound good. And this can lead a music lover to interesting gear that, despite appearances, sounds amazing. Nowhere is this more true than with the $49 Strauss and Wagner SI201 - a cheap, unassuming little earphone that delivers solid sound at a great price.

The Strauss and Wagner SI201 features a relatively solid design, with an aluminum housing and plastic nozzles. Inside each earpiece, an 10 mm single dynamic driver handles sound, while delivering a solid bass response.

Cabling comes in the form of a standard 48 in (1.2 m) length with an integrated mic and remote. This cable terminates in an MFI-certified lightning connector, providing the most divisive feature of the SI201, but enabling its saving grace: pure, unfettered sound quality on a budget.

Fit and comfort feel decent - about what I would normally expect from an earphone at this price. Isolation strikes me as impressive, too. With the volume on my phone at 50-60%, and a good seal with the right eartips, I can't hear anything around me.

In addition to three pairs of eartips, the Strauss and Wagner SI201 also comes with a cloth carrying pouch. And, while it certainly doesn't carry a ton of accessories in tow, this earphone still delivers the goods.

Specifications

Frequency Range: 20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 92 dB

As you can see from the specs, the Strauss and Wagner SI201 offers a fairly standard frequency range and impedance. While the sensitivity does seem a bit low on paper, in actual practice it seems misleading; thanks to the lightning connection, these earphones still get VERY loud, and I find myself getting comfortable volume at 60%, though even 70% feels too loud.

Low End

In the low end, the SI201 delivers an energetic and engaging listening experience. On tracks like 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk, the bass notes wax thick and fat, with real weight. But there's also a decent bass impact, leading to an infectious beat that induces reflexive toe-tapping and head-nodding. Clear and crisp, there's no real bleed to speak of - just an well-crafted sound that leans just slightly warm.

Midrange

I was impressed with the lows, but the mids on the SI201 blow me away. While most in-ear headphones under $50 will skimp on the mids, this Strauss and Wagner model keeps the detail and adds just a shade of contrast or sharpness. The result manifests as a tactile listening experience - gritty but accurate, sharp but not unnatural. Dirty Dike's opus 'Mayonnaise' - normally a difficult track in terms of midrange, where instrumentation can compete with vocals on lesser 'phones - showcases the contrast available in the SI201's midrange. Even on the chorus, where Dike's words seem to slide hazily into the beat Shoegaze-style, the SI201 brings them just above the surface, allowing you to feel the effect of the track's production while still drinking in the lyrics.

High End

Here the Strauss and Wagner sounds just a little bright, giving a slight luster to the highs. While never too piercing or uncomfortable, it delivers just enough emphasis on the treble to sound magical but still highly-detailed. Vocals and instrumentation both sound fantastic, but the sheer fidelity of this high end wins me over. On Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel', that raw, grinding guitar really jumps out, raw and unkempt, as in-your-face as the singer's point of view. But vocals soar to a degree as well, proven in tracks like 'Broke' by Ari Lennox (from her fresh debut, Shea Butter Baby), where a soulful delivery dripping with emotion allows the song to be felt as much as heard.

Soundstage

Thanks to the MFI-certified lightning connect, the overall sound of the Strauss and Wagner SI201 comes across as cleaner and clearer than other earphones at the same price. That cleaner sound helps too with the sense of soundstage, where a real sense of depth and placement can be felt on any given track. Closing my eyes, I can feel each note emanating from a point nearby - no overlapping instruments, no notes drowning out other notes, just a clear, clean, good listening.

Final Analysis

At $49, the Strauss and Wagner SI201 offers an impressive level of bang for your buck. It's a solid sound, rife with detail, that leaves me falling in love with my music all over again. Aesthetically, it may not be winning a ton of awards, but for sound quality alone, it trounces other in-ear headphones that cost twice as much. If you have an iOS device and need a new pair of earphones for daily listening, don't settle for less; snatch this baby up and get back to the music.